If you’re a millennial or in Generation Z, odds are you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s because you’re always on that phone” many times. That statement and its variations all express concern about an apparent social media addiction.
Social media’s implications go beyond constant usage and people posting ‘Happy Birthday’ messages to each others’ Facebook walls. It’s reshaped the way our generation views business, connection and even ourselves.
“You’d be a fool if you think it’s [social media] going anywhere,” media expert and UF alumna Isabella Silverio said.
The growth of apps like Facebook and Instagram have created new avenues for businesses to market their products. Many companies now use native ads and influencer marketing.
Alessandra Mayr, a UF public relations senior, has more than 17,000 followers on Instagram and thousands of likes on each picture. She has partnerships with Victoria's Secret's PINK, the dating app Hinge and other brands, making her a bonafide influencer.
According to Mayr, Hinge paid her $500 to make one Instagram post and $600 for two Instagram stories. She said Victoria’s Secret PINK compensates her with gift cards to buy their products.
Ads, whether they are delivered at the hands of an influencer or not, saturate the online space.
“Companies are using social media to grow their business, and that’s because their ideal clients are hanging out on social media,” Silverio said.
Mayr said the brands she’s worked with encouraged her to be original and authentic with the content she posts.
“They want your posts to be organic. They don’t want it to look like an ad,” Mayr said. “You should sound like you in your caption so people actually believe what you’re saying.”
Having your followers trust you as an influencer is everything if you want to grow and monetize your account, according to Silverio.
“When we’re on Instagram, we’re looking for connection,” Silverio said. “What are things about you that are very relatable? What are things about you that other people find interesting?” she added.
One of Mayr’s connection points with her audience is derived from her personal story and perhaps the sense of pride and identity her followers find in it. Mayr was born in Honduras and moved to the States when she was 16.
“They see me as this sorority girl that moved to the U.S., speaks English and is ‘trendy,’ but then randomly I’ll post something in Spanish or that I’m at a Honduran soccer game. People get really excited,” she said.
More than 80 % of Mayr’s followers are from Honduras. With this demographic in mind, she said she constantly thinks of what content she can post for them.
“When you have resonance in your social media, then it’s creating a touchpoint with the person on the other side,” Silverio said.
“I’m very grateful,” Mayr said, “but at the same time being an influencer is a lot of pressure.”
The pressure and discomfort that many face, influencer or not, because of the pervasiveness of social media is another one of its implications.
Instagram, with its sometimes highly edited pictures, has the power to distort reality.
Mayr warns that our Instagram profiles are an idealized version of us. “If you get out of hand with it, you can start believing that you look like your photos even though you know that you edited it so much,” she said.
To create a healthy relationship with social media, Silverio suggests creating boundaries with it. You are responsible for how you interact with the apps and the content that you choose to consume.
“If you’re on Instagram and you’re constantly being triggered by that girl who dated your ex-boyfriend, unfollow them. Who cares?” she said.
The media mogul said creating a safe space for yourself online is especially important if you want to make money from your Instagram.
“If you want to monetize off your personal brand, be an influencer or be a business owner, it requires you to be so dialed into what you’re doing that no one else matters,” Silverio said. “Any deviation or distraction [because of] what other people are doing or what other people are thinking about you is robbing you of your mission.”
Silverio urges people to call into question the content that they’re consuming.
“Hold yourself to a higher standard and consume better content,” she said.
One way you can start the process of filtering your feed is by muting people and posts that trigger you.
“The mute button is awesome,” Silverio.
Comparison of yourself with online influencers, especially the ones promoting name brands and going on paid vacations, is often a triggering source for many Instagram users.
To that end, Silverio said, “Realize that you’re a real human, and this girl does that for a living. This is what influencers are supposed to do.”